How to Trick Your Brain Into Writing

Published on 8th Jan., 2017

How to Trick Your Brain Into Writing

If there’s one thing almost all writers have in common, it’s being masters of procrastination. Set a blank screen in front of us, and we dread it so much that we can find any number of other things to do, like fall down the rabbit hole of social media, watch endless YouTube videos, or even get a few loads of laundry done.

But one other thing writers have in common is realizing that once we finally start writing, it’s actually not that bad! We just need to get started and build up some momentum. Here’s a quick list of strategies you can use to trick yourself into writing before procrastination sets in.

Set the writing mood

Before you settle in with your keyboard, set an atmosphere that will make you want to write. For example, I love to brew a mug of tea, light the candle on my desk, and start the playlist I save just for writing. Whatever sets the right mood for you, get into a habit of doing those things for every writing session. Your brain will recognize that it’s time to write and will get to work faster.

Start with freewriting

Starting your writing session with five or ten minutes of freewriting is like warming up before your workout. It will limber up your brain and begin to dial-in your concentration. For me, I also find that freewriting gets stress and worries out of my brain and allows me to write clearly.

Write an outline

The problem with a blank page is that we have no idea where to start, so we turn to procrastination. Instead of pressuring yourself to write from scratch, create an outline. Jot down any main points, subheadings, statistics, and sentences you’ve already thought of. Even if it’s just in bullet points and incomplete sentences, an outline gives me something to reference and keeps me on track.

Set a deadline

If you work better under pressure, then setting a deadline for yourself is a very valuable trick. Even if you already have a deadline from your editor or client, move it ahead in your calendar and use the looming deadline to get the work done sooner. I love this particular trick because it often allows me to deliver work to my clients early and overdeliver.

Reward yourself along the way

This is one of my go-to tricks, because I am a firm believer in bribing myself to work faster. I’ll set little rewards for hitting milestones during my writing session. Wrote another 500 words? Now I can have the snack I’ve been craving! Finished creating another 30 tweets for my client? I’m going to play a level of Super Mario Run! You can use all kinds of things to reward yourself - snacks, a walk outside, an episode on Netflix, checking Facebook - the possibilities are endless.

With the right strategies up our sleeves, we don’t have to be a slave to the blank screen or procrastination. Try out a few of these tips to trick yourself into writing and the words should come out easier than before. Build up a bit of momentum and your writing session will turn into a winning word count!

Robyn Petrik is a freelance writer from Vancouver, Canada, and specializes in writing blog posts and social media content for creative small businesses. Along with writing, she also spends time painting on her iPad, reading, hiking, and eating too much peanut butter. You can learn more about Robyn at and connect with her on Twitter.

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